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TOPIC: Andrea and Merra

Andrea and Merra 4 years 8 months ago #265

Hello! My name is Andrea and i provide for a horse named Merrelin, but who is normally referred to as Merra. Which translated into english means "mare".

For those of you who are norwegians, here is my Norwegian blog: www.hest.no/blog/?bid=21833. Those of you who can't understand Norwegian might like the pictures:)

Our story from where we were and to how we got here is very long and complicated. But I'll try to stay short:

We met in 2004 when I went to a summer horse camp. I fell in love instantly and when she was for sale in december 2012 my parents agreed to buy her for me. Before I became a horse owner I went to this horrible riding school. I was grossed by what I saw there and I read about horsemanship and wanted to do it that way when I got my own horse. The summer before Merra came to me I quit the riding school as I had grown tired of the bad treating of the horses.

She came to me pregnant! in January 2013. In March she had a stallion foal who bore the name Rocket Surprise. I raised the foal and in August 2013 he was given away to the woman who had taken car eof my horses in pasture in the summer. He got to stay with the herd he had spent his 3rd to 6th month with. And it was a very easy adaption. I was heartbroken, but my parents only allowed me one horse, I got to choose between them, but for me it wasn't really a choice, it was always Merra.

By the end of summer I'd learned a lot abot Monty Roberts. His way to train horses seemed so neat. I saw him at Hønefoss i Norway. I was quite impressed, until I read this blog that critizised him, and then I saw him with new eyes.

I moved to a new stable that fall of 2008. But in February 2009 we moved back to the old stable. Both she and I were miserable about this new stable. She had to spend a lot of time inside, only a small paddock to go out in two or three hours a day. She went nuts, I was afraid of riding her. But she had to have exercise or else she would stand inside all day long. I let other people ride her. I was 14 at the time and didn't knew any better. She got rid of her energy and was a lot better, but she didn't do so good in the end. We just couldn't take it anymore. We moved back to our old stable.

Back at the new stable I went to two riding lessons a week, just because I didn't dare to ride without supervision, my friends in the stable followed me when we were outside of the stable, going to the mountain, the beach or the forrest. And just like that I wasn't afraid anymore.

That summer, summer of 2009 I went to this boot camp in dressage. In a week I finally found the right button. I broke her. And I was proud because by what I had learned, this was just the way to do it. I kept training dressage and jumping until the summer of 2010 when I read this book called Hestenes Klan (The Clan of the Horses).

From the books webpage: clanofthehorses.blogspot.no/: The bestselling novel Clan of the Horses/Hestenes klan, was published in Norway in 2010 and is out in it's fifth print. The novel is also available in German under the title "Zwischen Himmel und Erde". ..........I would really recommend you german people to read this book. If it is as beautiful as it is in Norwegian you are really in for a treat. So many good lessons to be learned for young girls and boys who don't know which way to go.

After reading this book I had a mayor setback because I realized that everything I believed in was shattered to pieces. Nothing of what I'd learned was right. I saw my horse for what she really was. Broken, unhappy, apatic and wounded. There was no spirit og personality left in her. No pride, no strenght, no selfesteem. I changed many things and i lost the bit, competitions, shoes, force and punishment. Just like the rules of NHE. I spent some time at their forum, but I quit updating after a while, early 2011. I also spent some time earlier at the AL forum, but I can say as much as I've been bad at updating. I spent a lot of time study the horses behavior and also read a lot on the internett about health, instincts and needs of horses. In spring og 2011 I moved her to a stable where she could spend most of her time outdoors in a little herd. You should have seen her how she has blossomed since that. I get to pet and groom her with true concent, she shows appreciation when i scratch her, she is opinionated and strong. I have so much to tell about what I've learned since then so I cannot possibly do it in a good way. But I wrote Maksida a letter I thought I would share, because it summarizes the last year we've had together.

Letter to Maksida:
What changes I see in my girl, I can barely begin to describe it to others. And I wish that someone could truly see what she was, and how she is now in comparison. It it the most amazing thing ever. I have kept giving her all the time she needed. From January 2013 things really exploded. I had a friend visiting in the stable and I told her, "What you see today is truly unique. This is the first day she's been like this ever" She was so awake walking free inside while we were cleaning the stalls.

That winter springtime really was turning point. Her personality kept growing stronger. I realized that one of the things that was holding us back, was forgiveness. It wasn't that she hadn't forgiven me, I hadn't. Everytime she didn't meet me when I arrived at the stable I assumed it was because of our past. What I didn't realize was that it was because of the present. I learned an important lesson that spring. She has a everyday life. I only spend a few hours together with her everyday. That means she has a 22 hour life every day that I'm not a part of. So it is only natural that I sometimes arrive at bad moments. If she doesn't come and say hello I might just have comed at a really bad time. Horses have a natural rythym where they eat a lot. So when I'm with her two hours a day, chances are pretty big that I will come when it is most suitable for her to eat. That doesn't mean that she didn't forgive me.

By summer 2013 she got a bit grumpy, and I gave her a lot of distance. The funny thing was, I had so many good times being with her still. I once came on a really bad time. She was all about eating. Funny thing was that when the "herd leader" ran away from me, she didn't follow. She spend an hour grazing around me. Eventhough I came at a bad time, she wanted to share that time with me anyway. By fall she wasn't grumpy anymore, she wasn't easily bullied around by other, she started to payback if the other horses stole her food and she got more confident.

It got to the point where I actually could say no to her. If I did that before she would fall apart again, but now I could say no to her when I felt that she was to close to my personal zone. Just like I had allowed her for 3 years. I finally felt we were equals and that we could tell each other when we weren't happy with one another.

2014 I've ridden her twice with so much enthusiasm from her side it completly blew my mind. I've been spending the last four years breaking the expectations she had to the time we spend together only in the pasture. But now I can go and take her outside and she wants to come with me. This one day I wanted her to come outside I was with my boyfriend and his dog. She didn't want to come at first but then the "herd leader" again made her follow me. I told him off because I wanted her to come because she wanted to come. So I sat down and waited for her and then after a while she came with me. We took her outside and let her taste some of the fresh spring grass while we were playing abit with the dog. When I was about to take her back in she walked straight ahead and wanted to go for a walk. Not to graze but because she wanted to experience something else. So we walked, me, her, my boyfriend and his dog. When she wanted to turn around, we did. She was really happy all the time.

I just wanted to tell you how for we've come, because you and people of Academia have been some of those who have inspired me to listen to my horse. And I'm very grateful for that.

This journey have learned me so many things about respect, trust, humility, forgiveness, but most importantly of trust. I don't need great acheivements, I don't need that she follows me like a dog like a lot of those horsemanshiphorses do. I want a best friend who's not afraid of telling me a thing or two. What we have is so little to most people, and they can't barely the the periferi of what I see in our relationship. But it is peace, harmony and best of all, equality.

This is a compilation of pictures I put together on my Norwegian blog to show the difference between when I kept my horse traditionally and now when she is mostly her own master: www.hest.no/blog/?blid=1186109. Før (Before), Etterhvert (Now)

I'm still Andrea, 19, in October 2014 I'm turning 20. I August I'm moving out of my parents house and to Oslo eight hours away. I'm taking Merra with me and I will have her to go to as I study to become a veterinarian. When done with my veterinary degree, I plan to take a bachelor in biologi and then a master in etology. I really want to work in Mattilsynet which is the Norwegian "state organisation" for animal welfare and food. I wanna really kick some ass there because they do so many things I disagree on. The problem in Norway isn't that the laws are bad, but that it's accepted to not follow them and everybody is still convinced that they are following the rules! If Norway ever gets an animal police, I willl then also have the proper education to apply as an expert to assist the police offisers in the cases they work on.

My interests are: Nature, ourdoor activities, reading, music, poetry, Fanatsy ( Lord of the Rings etc.) animals and animal welfare.

Merra is become the most amazing horse. Or she's always been amazing, but now as she is allowed to show it she also dares to show it. I've already said something about how much she has changed, but I do find it truly hard to describe her fairly. It is beyond my skills to tell you on paper how stunning, beautiful, gorgeous she is. I wish you all could meet her. She is not the playful type, nor is she a very active horse. But she has this power and pride within every step she takes and has really reclaimed her own life. She is this wise, grown and mature horselady of 15 years old. She is a wonderful best friend and teacher.

I have a tattoo of her name written in tengwar letters on my chest, right with my heat. Here's the blog that shows the picture of it: www.hest.no/blog/index.html?bid=21833&blid=1154766

The norwegian text says: In deep gratitude to a best friend, a teacher, a heart child. My biggest challenges, my biggest pride. Perpetuated by my heart.

And thats it for now! Speaks :D
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Re: Andrea and Merra 4 years 8 months ago #272

  • Maksida Vogt
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Dear Andrea,

warm welcome to you to the new forum.
I was very very happy to read your letter. What a incredible journey you and Merra have behind you, full of strong feelings, deep experences and revealing beauty. You stepped on this path out of love and it is incredible how this horse has lead you and followed you in the same time. It makes me so happy to read such stories, they are full of warmth and humanity.
Oh, it is graet you want to study and to be active in these areas, we really really need good people at such position. People who understand. people who have such experience as you do. I am so much looking forward to see the change you and others are going to bring, working at such places. It is good to have you here, it is good to read from you again.

Please update us regularly with your stories. <3
"...And the gods whispered to the animal, trust no man in whose eyes you do not see yourself reflected as an equal . "
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Re: Andrea and Merra 4 years 8 months ago #274

Dear Andrea,

Welcome from me too to this beautiful new forum :D

What came to my mind after reading your great story, when early this morning I was thinking about it, is this thing about horses eating.

For horses living in natural conditions there is always something to eat and it is never a problem for them to leave the food because whenever they feel like resume eating they simply will.
It is sadly in unnatural conditions that leaving the food becomes a source of stress.
As you maybe remember, my horses live free on more than 20 hectars with food available all year long. Anytime a human comes walking by, they are sooooo curious that they immediately arrive and ask for interaction.

In any case the evolution in your story is great. Also I love your projects. Keep going, you're doing great ;D
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Re: Andrea and Merra 4 years 8 months ago #288

  • Tamlyn Labuschagne
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:D Hi Andrea and Merra

your story has me smiling So Big! thanks for articulating it better than you realize. You paint a very beautiful clear picture of your story together... and Yes! I know Live and helped with some edit for her book I have encouraged her right from her concept and I am So Pleased to hear that her story has helped Merra and Your story into a better feeling place!! YAY! My hope is for an English translation and I think that the more people who write into the Norwegian Film Commission supporting her bid for funding the better - I personally would Love to see Clan of the Horses available as a movie!

Hold faith in your knowing while you face the outdated texts in your veterinary syllabus, you have to do the work as it is but just know there are So Many more effective and better options that await you once you have registration as a vet. Remember you can always ask here and of course we will support you as best we can so that you can become all that you wish.

Your photo's are delightful, the beautifully expressive expressions and body language she shows towards you is truly beautiful to see. It's easy to see how empty she was before in the earlier photo's and how much more she shows in the recent photo's... Well done Dear! you have added to the better feeling energy available to horses everywhere. Let's keep growing that! x
Tamlyn Labuschagne
"Be gentle my children in using your hands and let your chief effort be mental"
Last Edit: 4 years 3 months ago by .
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Andrea and Merra 4 years 3 weeks ago #1891

I'm not the best to update, but when there is little active members in the english forum I am not very motivated I'm afraid.

Thanks a lot for so many positive comments on my first post in this topic. I am so glad that you felt that you could understand my story through what I wrote. I find it so hard to explains all the wonders that this journey has shown me and how much my horse has changed. It is truly undiscribable. Your support means so much to me and it is inspiring to know that am not alone in this! From where I stand here in Norway, me as a horseperson is sort of a joke to everybody since I have no results or achievements to show for. Lots of love to all of you wonderful people I get to share this sort of path with.

Vet school is okay, I past my first big exam containing the following topics: cell biology, histology, genetics, embryology and biochemistry. Right now we are having epidemyology and statistics before we start with anatomy and physiology in April.

We've had a difficult fall, the horse and I. I moved her from my hometown to Oslo where the school is and she has had a hard time to adjust to her new environment. After two weeks she probably stumbled and twisted her foot because she was very lame. The vet thought right away that it was because... she was not wearing shoes. Yeah, right. After a week of painkillers and rest she was all better. Probably just stumbled and fell as the horses ran a lot around to get to know each other.

Four days later after she was well the farrier came. During the time she was there Merra got more and more restlest, she pooped rapidly and when the farrier was done the final symptom came. She tried to lie down. Colic, great. I dragged her out of the stable and forced her to walk with me. The farrier called the vet, we took her temp and kept walking. When the vet came he tried to give her painkillers but it didn't work. She wanted constantly to lie down and we had to keep her walking. Somehow she had colic, diarrea and constapation at the same time. She started to get dehydrated and she was in a lot of pain. The vet wanted her to go to the Vet schools hospital, but I couldn't afford it. He said that she had one of the most complicated cases of colic he'd ever seen and thought that she needed more care than it was possible to give her at the stable. He said I could start preparing for having a dead horse by the end of the week. She got a triple dose of painkillers and was set on intravenous fluid.

That was a very long day and night. 23 hours and 45 minutes before I ever left her side. She got better on her own, started to drink on her own again and got some appetite. I was so relieved! She got to go outside to the other horses after a while and since that we have had no sickness coming our way. Luckily.

Since she was new, since she spend so much time away from the herd because of the illness and because she was physicly and mentally reduced the other horses bullied her a lot. I was so anxious for her and I saw that she kept losing weight. Fortunatly she had some extra kilos from summer so she was doing okay in spite of everything. She was not happy and the wonderful summer we had seemed very distant. I thought that she was mad at me again and that our trust had faded. I did have to whip her up to her feet when she was ill. There was no way around doing that because she was in so much pain she wasn't aware of any of us trying to help her. I believed everything was ruined. Everytime I came to her in their pasture she walked away. Everytime. I then relized that she wanted me to follow her. She was asking me to come withe her. She wanted me by her side as she walked up to the feeing place where the other horses stood. She wanted me as moral support, she wanted me there because she actually trusted me and needed me to strengten her as she approached the other horses. I felt so happy yet so sad at the same time. I was happy because our relationship was so good, and filled with trust still. I was happy because I was able to read her and to communicate on a very deep level. And some part of me was trilled that she showed me that she needed me. But I was so sad because of the very same reason. I loved that she needed me, but I hated that she did as well. I couldn't be there 24 hours a day and she was mentally weaker again. It was painful to see her like that again now that she had finally reached the top this summer.

Over christmas things started to turn around again. I started prepping for my big exam and was really busy. A dear friend of mine past away and the funeral was set the day before my exam. To put it mildly: I was stressed. Then coming to the stable was always giving me a peace of mind. She was getting stronger as I felt worse, my absence had forced her to speak up for herself, and she did. It was probably the best thing for her. Me being away a lot, she had to bring about the strong and independent horse she had become the last five years and now no one messes with her. She is so firery and strong and its pure joy being there with her!

Things have eventually worked out and I am so happy. I didn't want to move stable again because this place is so wonderful, big pasture, free intake of hay, fresh water outside all the time and two big shelters. It's a perfect place. Also moving her around wouldn't be good for her either, forcing her to try to adapt to another new place. And now I'm so glad that I gave her more time to settle down. We had a very unlucky start of it all, but now she is healthy and she is content with her environment again.

Pictures from last summer: hest.no/blog/?bid=21833&blid=1183096
Movie from last summer: hest.no/blog/?bid=21833&blid=1192285
Pictures from this fall: hest.no/blog/?blid=1201377
Pictures from last week: hest.no/blog/?bid=21833&blid=1207625
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Andrea and Merra 4 years 3 weeks ago #1892

"Am I extreme?"
An essay written on my Norwegian blog a few years ago. Translated into English.

"I' sorry. You do whatever you want, but for me that is just too extreme". This is a sentence I hear a lot, all the time together with many other remarks about my way of horsekeeping.

But what's so extreme with me? I started in a riding school, went to four horse camps and then got my own horse. I've ridden dressage, jumped and went on long tours in the mountains. I've also experimented with Western. I've used bit, whips and spurs to train my horse. I was pretty strict as a rider and my horse couldn't mess around when we were exercising. Just like many others. To much laziness and I told her she had to work. If the was "rude" and not willing to cooperate I told her off.

Then I saw my self in a new way and stopped. For this was not the kind of horsekeeping I wanted. It wasn't a kind of horsekeeping that was good for my horse. Now my way of horsekeeping lack a paddock, bit, saddle, whip, spurs, punishment, force and training. And I now have a happy horse. A horse that greets me when I meet her, who has big curious eyes, who let me enter her personal zone withing force. She lets me know when something is wrong, she not afraid to get mad and she has her own suggestiosn to where we should walk.

To many people this is extreme. A horse who practicly do whatever it wants and who's not being punished for it. It's not only extreme, but it is dangerous. I understand the sceptisism, I do. Because you do not know this. But why can't you believe me when I say that she is more willing to cooperate that she ever was. You do believe most people who say that their horses need punishment. Why can't you believe me?

The only thing that makes me extreme is the fact that I'm different. I do something that not anyone else does. I do something you can't even begin to understand. I'm extreme because the established truth is that horses need correction and that they become dangerous if they are not controlled. If the established truth was that my was was correct, those who punished their horse would be considered to be extreme.

I'm only extreme because I'm very alone.

I'm fanatic as well you should know. I'm actually very fanatic. As if you actually know what a fanatic is when you toss the term after me.

Apperently I'm fanatic because I looked myself in the mirror twice. I'm fanatic becaus eI didn't like what I saw. I'm fanatic because I for an entire years search for a better approach. I'm fanatic because I learned many new methods and because I left many of them behind. I'm fanatic because I've spent a lot of time figuring out what's best for my horse. I'm fanatic because I continiue learning eventhough I found a new path. I'm fanatic because I'm willing to do everything for my horse. I'm fanatic because I can discuss with someone for a long time, and because I don't agree at the end they burst out, calling me a fanatic. For all of these reasons I'm fanatic.

Just like you, I don't want to labeled.

Maybe you call me fanatic because I don't "turn" when I discuss with you? Maybe you call me a fanatic bevcause I don't think your arguments are good enough? Maybe you call me a fanatic because I don't think your reasons for doing what you do justify the means? Maybe you call me a fanatic because you've heard other do so?

Just don't forget taht I used to do things a lot like you, and thought is was good. Until I opened my eyes and started to look for new solutions. That's not fanatic. That's open minded.

I'm not more fanatic because I don' want to go back, than you are for not being willing to try what I do. I know what I've said no to. You don't.

I'm extreme and fanatic because you don't understand. Because you don't know, but think you do.

You don't think that my horse has frames she can relate to and that for that reason she becomes dangerous, mean and a vandal with no respect for others. You think she is confused.

But she does has frames she can relate to. Just other frames than your horses have. She knows she can talk, feel and act without me tellling her that it's wrong. We comprimise when we are out walking. She knows we can't walk on other peoples fields. She knows she can't run into my personal zone, just like I don't run into hers. She allows me to be angry, like I allow her to be angry. We communicate, we have a dialog. It's not much to be confused about.

She has only good qualities, just others than those you appreciate. She gets to show her individuality, independence, strength, uniqueness and her ability to take initiative. Only good qualities.

You might be right. I am without doubt extremly fond of my horse. I love her a lot. And I'm a total fanatic when it comes to her wellbeing. But I think you might be spelling it wrong. I'm not fanatic because I will do everything for my horse,

I'm fantastic!
Last Edit: 4 years 2 weeks ago by AndreaMerra.
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